how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought? — Wendell Berry, “The Country of Marriage”
Ginger and I celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary yesterday. We both had full workdays: I had three functions and she had a funeral, a wedding, and a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration to attend. At ten o’clock last night we pulled out of the driveway to make the forty-minute trip into Boston and the Hard Rock Café, where we go every year because we got engaged at the Hard Rock in Dallas. (Last year, we were at the Hard Rock in Athens.) I didn’t have a function on Friday night, so we had talked about celebrating then, but neither of us wanted to settle for not being there on the actual day. We got home a little after one and went to church feeling tired this morning.
But it was a good kind of tired.
April 21, 1990 was Earth Day, Paula Abdul Saturday (according to VH-1), and our wedding day. In the seventeen years since, we’ve shared four addresses in three different towns and two states, had five Schnauzers, two washing machines, five computers, and six cars. She’s seen me go from working as a minister to an English teacher to a minister again and then a chef. I typed and edited as she got her doctorate. We had no way to anticipate then where life would take us. All we knew was we wanted to be together, wherever we were going. We knew we were moving to Boston, but we had no idea we would be living the life we are today. Regardless of our address, we have made a home in the country of marriage, an unbounded land that calls us each day to a journey for two.
From time to time, Ginger asks me where I think I would be if we had not married. My answer has always been the same: “I don’t think I would be alive.” I don’t mean to be morose or hyperbolic; I don’t know how to picture having lived these years without her. When I look back over these years – my struggle to find my true sense of vocation, my depression, to mention a couple of things – I know I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been sustained and even reclaimed by the way she has loved me. Maybe I answer the question that way because the prospect is unimaginable to me: I don’t want to know what it would have been like to live without her.
If this sounds over the top, then so be it. And I have one more thing to say. I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool stuff in my life. I’ve worked hard to learn a lot of things and tried my hand at any number of jobs and hobbies. I’m proud of my work and my accomplishments. And what matters more than anything else in my life is I got to be Ginger’s husband. Regardless of how the rest of my days add up, to have spent these years with her make mine an extraordinary life.
I am a proud citizen of the country of marriage.